Invisible Cities: Mari.k

The interview is conducted as part of the SuperRare April Exhibition: Invisible Cities, curated by an and Elisabeth Johs.

Mari.k is a freelance 3D/voxel artist based in Istanbul, Turkey. With a passion for Isometric dioramas and architectural design. Creates microworlds out of voxels (each voxel is a 3D pixel) for people to explore. 

A. Describe the cities in your art

Constantinople ( Istanbul )

After living in Istanbul for a while now, I still get excited and inspired by the amazing architecture and the beautiful sights. It gets me every time and has such a deep impact on me emotionally. It feels like home to me now. This piece is a tribute to all the glory and the greatness of this beautiful historical city. Vibrant colors indicating my vision of this beautiful place and the vibes it gives me. 

Constantinople (Istanbul)
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Diomira is the first city described in the book (“invisible cities” by Italo Calvino) and the one that I fell in love with right away while reading. I could clearly see a vision of those glorious silver domes in my head. 

It was so exciting as if the author was painting a picture in front of me himself. Each word was shaping a part of the creation in my head voxel by voxel. 

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I had already sent my two entries for the exhibition, but at the last minute I saw a vision of a city in my head and could not ignore it. Emiris wants to be found and share its stories with people. Captivating stories of all the lifeforms this city once have held inside. No one knows when or how it got lost, but now we might be able to find a path leading to it through echoes of time. 

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B. How did you become interested in using cities as the subject in your art? Which aspects of cities fascinate you the most?

There are two reasons why I love to use cities as the subject of my art. First is my passion for architectural design and second is what cities mean. cities can be like an encyclopedia of a culture, of generations of people. It’s not only a group of structures and buildings for human interactions but it holds people’s stories, cultures, mysteries, emotions and all the lives being lived in it. It’s something that’s always the most appealing to me.

C. What do cities mean for you?

I look at each city like a whole new different world waiting to be explored. Each city has its own unique spirit and it’s own meaning. You just have to look really closely to be able to grasp that feeling. Cities would talk to you!  

D. Which are your favorite cities? How do these cities inspire you and influence your art?

I haven’t been lucky enough to visit many cities yet, but among the ones I have, Istanbul is by far my most favorite city. You can get heavily inspired just by walking in old neighborhoods of Istanbul. I’ve always had a thing for historical monuments and architectural designs with arches, domes and minarets. Looking at old buildings and trying to guess their story throughout years has always been a hobby of mine. I would get drowned into amazing shapes and details of a single ornament and would cherish the effort went into making it. 

E. What are you trying to express through depiction of cities? In portraying cities, what are the (bigger or personal) stories you’re trying to tell?

I like to make people look at cities from a different perspective literally by making isometric dioramas. I create tiny worlds and cities from another point of view to show it as a whole also to show how very small pieces come together to shape that bigger picture as one. 

F. What’s your approach to make art about cities (creative process, technique, art genre, aesthetics etc.)

First step for me would be learning about the subject. I start by gathering a large collection of reference images and I would read and research about it a lot. I follow the work of some amazing artists and architects and always get inspired by their creations. 

I learn so much about how cities are built, what defines them and different aspects of them in the process. The more you immerse yourself in the subject the more vividly it takes shape in your mind. It slowly becomes alive and that’s a very exciting part for me personally. That moment of epiphany and giving birth to an idea, that’s what I live for.  

And then comes the hard part of actually executing the idea you came up with in the most perfect form. Sometimes you would be limited by the tools or lack of certain skills and you’d just have to deal with it or better yet it can force you to pick up new skills or tools to avoid discarding a good idea and then your growth happens followed up by that.  

G. What does your ideal city look like?

For me it would be a city where architecture and nature become one.  

H. What’s the relationship between nature and cities in your art?

The relationship between nature and cities is definitely one of the most important aspects of my work. I usually define the general shape of the structures in connection to their surroundings which is mostly created using natural organic shapes and/or foliage. 

I. What are the little things you want viewers to notice in your art?

I care about the details in my work very much so it always thrills me when people take their time and notice them, they’d find the smallest little details and point them out to me.  

J. What’s your dream art project to do?

Actually I have 2 dream projects. One is to team up with an architect and to design a life size building with cubes and actually be able to see my work in the physical world. And second one is to make a massive voxel universe in the adventure/exploration game genre so people can explore around and maybe find hidden treasures! 😉

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